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Why are companies asking me if I have other job offers?

by Brynn
(Odessa, TX)

Some interviewers ask me about my job search in general and whether I have received job offers from other companies. Why do they ask me this, and what is the best way to answer it?

Thank you for all the good information on your site. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Mike Replies:

There are 2 reasons why you're being asked this question. First, if you are close to getting an offer, or have one or two offers pending, most companies conclude that by the time they interview you and get to the offer stage, you'll have already accepted another offer. So, why bother to even interview you? It's easier for them to interview other candidates where they have a greater chance of hiring them.

Second, if you've been job hunting and interviewing for 6 months or longer, and haven't received any offers, companies fear there is something wrong with you.

They may also fear you're a tire kicker and not really serious about making a job change unless your dream job fell into your lap. So, they don't want to invest a lot of time and money interviewing you, only to be turned down at the end of the process.

Usually executive recruiters ask these questions more than companies...especially if your resume is on the Internet or in resume databases like Monster or CareerBuilder. Recruiters fear they may not be able to place you if you are overexposed or working with too many recruiters. They also have the same worries already mentioned above.

It's tough for me to advise you how to respond to the above question without knowing your employment status. If you email me back, I'll try an help you further.

Here is what I need to know: Are you unemployed? If so, how long have you been out of work? If you're employed, how long have you been job hunting and how many job interviews have you had? Have you received any job offers? How many offers, and why did you turn them down?

I'm not trying to put you on the spot or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. If I better know your situation, I can share with you the best response to neutralize the fears of those who are interested in interviewing you. Thanks.

Brynn Writes Back:

Hi Mike,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. In response to your questions, yes I am unemployed. I graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree in materials engineering in September 2010. After a brief trip to Europe, I started my job hunt in November.

In December, I received a verbal offer from a company in Chicago and was supposed to get the official written offer a week later, but never did. Human Resources called and told me that the director of the group I would be working for wanted the hiring manager to interview the remaining candidates and decide from there. The decision was delayed until mid-January, when I found out that I didn't end up getting the job.

I've had about 7 phone interviews, and 1 on-site interview. I've had 2-3 in-person screening interviews at my college campus' career center. During one of the recent on-campus interviews, it was my second time interviewing with the company. I interviewed with them a year ago at a career fair, but never made it on-site. I was told at this interview that the reason why I didn't make it on-site last year was because I was from Tulsa. They were afraid that after a couple years, I would leave because of my lack of connections in the Chicago area.

I had a technical phone screen that went very well a couple weeks ago. The next day, HR called and asked if I had received other offers so that she could see if they needed to rush the selection process along. (This question was asked before, in my preliminary phone screen with her when she wanted to know about my job search in general). I explained that I had received an offer, but it was later withdrawn. After she probed further, I said that it was a long story.

I'm not really sure how to go about answering that question. I didn't want to go into great detail about what happened, and I didn't want them to think that I turned down the offer. Please let me know how to best answer that question. I hope this email better summarizes my current situation.

In general, I'm having trouble making it to the on-site interviews, even though I've been told that I interview very well over the phone. It has been rather tough, but I'm hopeful that the economy will improve. Thank you very much for your time and advice, and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Mike Replies:

Hello Brynn-
Thanks for the details of your job search dilemma. You have a great education and I don't think you have long to wait for an offer. Your degree in materials engineering is in a hot area. Engineering in general is one of the few bright spots in this soft economy. So, I'm optimistic for you.

The problem with the job interview process is it's a big game. Companies don't know you or trust you yet, so they ask clever questions to minimize the risk of hiring a problem child. Although you should always be truthful when answering interview questions, job seekers can sometimes be too honest.

For example, the verbal offer you received that fell apart; in my opinion, you really weren't extended a formal offer. A real offer is a written offer outlining all the details of your offer including salary, benefits, start date, etc. It sounds like the person who extended your verbal job offer jumped the gun because the ultimate decision maker...the director...hadn't completed all of the interviews.

Your offer was premature and handled very, very badly. You shouldn't be penalized for their incompetence, nor are you obligated in any way to share this botched job offer with future interviewers. Here is the truth: You interviewed there along with many others and were not extended an offer. End of story.

You weren't rejected or had a job offer withdrawn. The company decided to hire someone else and you don't know why. For all you know, you were edged out by another candidate by a hair, and they could have flipped a coin between you and the other candidate. So, don't beat yourself up about this and don't even mention it if companies ask if you've received any recent offers.

I think you're a solid candidate with a lot of potential. It's simply a matter of time before you land a job. Don't despair, even though you've been looking for a few months with minimal results. Also, don't just apply to jobs online, and make sure you have a good profile on LinkedIn, so companies can find you.

Mike Petras

About Me | Site Map | Home Page | Mock Job Interview Quiz

Comments for Why are companies asking me if I have other job offers?

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May 17, 2017
Question NEW
by: Anonymous

I was recently in an interview and was asked the following: "Ok so lets say I offer you this job, and you go to your current job and they counteroffer, What would you do? What would make me think that you are serious about us?

How would I have answered this question?

Aug 10, 2016
Showed attitude and it worked
by: Rajdeep

I interviewed with one company and was in the director round. So here, he asked me if I have an offer. I told I rejected one. Then he asked the reasons. I told money. He followed up by asking how was the company. I responded by telling that it was a very good company. Then he told that sometimes we need to compromise between good companies and package. I told him "No compromise, when you have options.". I was selected. And feel happy about the fact that my honesty was rewarded in the end. But I still believe, if it was someone else, it might not have been like this.

Jul 06, 2011
Have You Applied for many jobs before?
by: Anonymous

Hi man ,
I found this page just by Google. Thank you for your useful information. I really appreciate it if you would help to know what should I answer to this question.
At the moment I am living in Australia, Sydney. I came to this country 1 year ago by skilled visa and I have been seeking for job since 10 months ago till now,The main problem in AUS is local experience. 99.99% of companies prefer to hire local engineers. My field is HVAC Design Engineer and HVAC Estimator. I have applied for about 100 ads and even for 40 companies directly as Graduate engineer and volunteer engineer just for getting local experience. I have 5 years experience in my job. in my country we used to using American Standards and Codes and software (ASHRAE,NPC, HAP, DUCT DESIGN E20 II) whereas in AUS they have their own standards, software . I'v got only 1 interview , I got the job but after 1 month I lost the it, because the company told me that I worked slowly and they need to train me whereas the don't have time and money for it, but technically they approved me and even the manager gave me a referral full of positive points about me .
I am looking forward to reading your answer soon. I have an interview in the coming week.
Thanks for your help

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